About The Production
"I've always been interested in the classic story of a nobody who becomes a
somebody," says writer/director Karyn Kusama, whose debut feature about
Diana Guzman, a fierce young woman who takes up boxing, took home the Best
Direction and (shared) Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.
"Whether it's Terry Malloy in "On the Waterfront" or more
recently, Tony Manero in "Saturday Night Fever," I've always been
drawn to these characters," adds Kusama.
"The idea of a personal growth through physical transformation
fascinated me, and I thought it would make an even more interesting story if the
main character were a woman," says Kusama.
Yet it's not the physical aspect of boxing that is the heart of "Girlfight."
Notes Kusama, "Girlfight is about more than boxing in the same way that
'Saturday Night Fever' is about more than disco."
The teenage Diana Guzman feels trapped - there seems to be no escape from her
battles at school, her dismissive father or her own self-destructive anger. That
is, until she discovers an outlet that not only makes her feel at home, it
allows her to become someone - and something - else. Diana's discovery of the
boxing world facilitates her maturity as an athlete, an adult, and most
importantly, as a woman. In finding a place to channel her natural aggression,
she tackles the most formidable of human endeavors - change.
Kusama chose the world of boxing as the metaphor for her powerful,
award-winning story based on personal experience. A fan, Kusama started boxing
in her early twenties and found it fascinating on many levels. The solitude of
training in contrast with the immediacy of confronting an opponent in the ring,
the physicality of the sport compared to the intense concentration and focus
required - all of these things inspired Kusama to explore the sport in her first
In writing the script, Kusama focused on the dramatic nature of fighting in
the ring. Says Kusama, "Boxing is very intimate. It's strangely moving to
see two people agree to be in a ring together to fight each other, yet it's
necessarily tragic - somebody loses and somebody wins. I find it one of the
purest sports, a very powerful confrontation between you and your
However, adds Kusama, "In boxing, as in any sport, you are confronting
Kusama found boxing a rich backdrop against which to explore a specific time
in everyone's life fraught with confusion and misdirected energy: adolescence.
"Adolescence is so chaotic," explains Kusama. "Your hormones are
on overdrive, and life is such a rollercoaster of feeling. It can be such a
creative time -- if all that energy is harnessed. But most kids don't find an
outlet where they can shape and focus all that energy. In boxing, one can focus
and channel not just the physical energy but the creative energy, too."
The physicality of boxing and its wordless form of confrontation also seemed
remarkably appropriate for adolescence. Kusama notes, "I am very conscious
of a cultural trend in depicting teenagers as hyper-verbal, hyper-aware people
who are very self-involved. In reality, teenagers are probably the most
subverbal, inarticulate, untogether people. They can't help it; they're growing
at such a rapid rate their bones are aching." Adds Kusama, "We tend to
want to gloss over the messiness of adolesc
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